Living in Southern California, one of the biggest perks is the beach. We live 3 miles from the ocean. (I know, spoiled)
Our two year old daughter, Madison, is presently in a stage where she copies everything her brothers do. This includes perfectly normal imitation of perfectly normal behaviors as well as mimicking the not-so-normal Autistic behaviors which our four year old son, Colton, displays often.
During spring break this year, I took Madison and Colton to the beach to watch our eight year old son, Landon, surfing at his first surf camp. I envisioned soaking up a little sun and watching the little ones burn some energy running around on the beach while watching Landon crash and burn trying to catch a few waves. So, we arrived about 30 minutes before the surf camp was to end for the day, parked the car, and began our trek to the beach.
First of all, I probably looked like the most uncoordinated and unorganized mother in all of California.
There were probably 200 steps down to the beach.
Amongst a multitude of sensory sensitivities, Colton struggles with various problems related to his lack of proprioception. This means he has trouble functionally normally in situations which require multiple parts of his body to move at the same time. Due to this, Colton is not so great with stairs; he has fallen at least three times down the stairs in our home (one of which landed him in an ambulance). Madison has entered a period of independence where she doesn’t want to be carried. She’s precious and so dainty which I love, but, my gosh, it takes her forever to walk anywhere.
So, there I was, trying to get my two small children down this enormous, sand covered, flight of wooden stairs. With one arm, I was carrying my daughter by the armpits because she can’t be held now without straightening her legs and yelling “down, down!” the whole time. At the same time, I was holding Colton’s hand while he was insisting on holding the hand rail in addition to my hand… as he meticulously placed both feet on EACH step all. the. way. down.
It took us 15 minutes just to get down the stairs.
I was sweating; my daughter had pulled my tank top down so half of my bra was hanging out.
It was not pretty.
As soon as we walked 10 steps toward where the surf camp was going on, Colton got sand in his shoes, started panicking from sensory overload, and wanted his shoes OFF. So, I took them off…. 3 seconds with his feet in the sand and he wanted his shoes back ON. At the same time, I had just taken Madison’s shoes off and, while trying to convince Colton that the sand on his feet was OKAY, Madison starts sticking her foot back in her shoe because Colton was in tears trying to get his feet back in his shoes.
I kicked off my flip flops to show them that sand was “safe” and forced them to walk AWAY FROM THE SHOES.
Colton spent the entire time we were at the beach trying to wipe the sand off his feet…. smart, right?? He took beach rocks and used those to wipe the sand off his toes. (That didn’t work out too well for him.)
By the time we made it to the area where Landon was surfing, they were finished for the day. So, it was time to go BACK UP THE STAIRS… with a dangling toddler in one arm and a 4 year old who was walking like he had shards of glass in his shoes.
I did learn an important lesson: never bring your sensory sensitive child to the beach without water shoes.
Ultimately, we did get our toes in the sand. Relaxing, though? Not so much.